Women’s Entrepreneur of the Year Recognized - Center for Rural Affairs presents prestigious award to Alliance Business Woman

Release Date: 



Jerry Terwilliger, Center for Rural Affairs REAP Loan Specialist, Phone: (308) 247-9926
or Elisha Smith, elishas@cfra.org, Center for Rural Affairs, Phone: (402) 687-2103 ext. 1007

Lyons, NE - Maria Swenson of Alliance was honored for her entrepreneurship and her dedication and involvement among women business owners in her community. She received the Center for Rural Affair’s REAP Women’s Business Center Entrepreneur of the Year Award.  Using services from the Center’s Rural Enterprise Assistance Project (REAP), Maria is successfully operating and growing her business. This exemplifies the entrepreneurial spirit so crucial to women-owned businesses and the rural Nebraska communities they call home.

Swenson was presented the award by Monica Braun, REAP Women’s Business Center Director and REAP Loan Specialist Jerry Terwilliger during the Women Entrepreneur Conference held in Grand Island on March 18.
“Thanks—I am grateful to have even been nominated—much less to have been chosen to receive this award! My success is not just mine; my incredibly talented and dedicated staff is the driving force behind the success of my company, MLCS Family and Youth Services,” commented Swenson. “I would not have been able to start my business without the REAP loan and I am grateful to Jerry Terwilliger for his support and advice. I couldn’t have done this without my staff and REAP!”
MLCS Family and Youth Services provides contracted family services to Nebraska DHHS and services to juveniles on probation and their families in the Panhandle.
In 2012 Terwilliger was contacted by Maria concerning some assistance to put together a business plan for her and her husband Carl, for a business to be known as MLCS Family & Youth Services, LLC. Maria was in need of a Business Plan, financing for start-up costs, and assistance with setting up an accounting system.  REAP worked with Maria in approving loans in 2012 to help finance purchases of needed equipment & startup expenses.
According to Terwilliger, MLCS Family & Youth Services was not an overnight success. Maria struggled for 15 months to make the necessary connections with courts, law enforcement agencies, and local and state human service offices. She worked through employee issues and delayed payments from the state of Nebraska. Her accounts receivable ran well over 60 days past due, yet she needed to meet payroll every month.
“Like many rural entrepreneurs – the dream of owning their own business is stronger than the mounting obstacles,” commented Terwilliger. “Maria took on the challenges one by one. A local bank helped fund her payroll. Employees gained experience and trust. She was finally able to move forward with her business plan.”
Currently Maria has offices is Alliance, Chadron, Sidney, and Gering, she has an average of 12-15 employees, and has purchased a building in downtown Alliance to remodel and move her business into.
“Thanks to Maria’s dedication to her business and community, the Nebraska panhandle is fortunate to have a place like MLCS Family and Youth Services. It’s truly an honor to recognize her efforts as an entrepreneur,” concluded Terwilliger.
For a picture of Swenson accepting her award, visit:
(Pictures courtesy of the Center for Rural Affairs)
For more information about this and other Center for Rural Affairs awards please visit: www.cfra.org.
The REAP Women’s Business Center is funded in part through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration.